Doctor’s orders put veteran driver into passenger seat
It was Day 3 and the time had come to pull out of driving purgatory where I had spent the weekend.
The RCMP hadn’t confiscated my wheels and suspended my licence for a stunting activity. I wasn’t doing diligence to a nolicence-for-a-week penalty for a speeding ticket either.
The culprit who grounded me was eye surgeon Dr. Dan Belliveau. Dr. Belliveau removed the cataract in my right eye and implanted a crisp new intraocular lens. The procedure was a 15-minute light show that dramatically improved my ability to read those far-off road signs and brightened up the day on the right side of my field of vision.
After the operation, the doctor advised not to drive for a while. I figured he meant for a few hours. But the discharge nurse surprised me when she stipulated no driving until after a followup appointment to make sure all was good with my bionic lens.
It was Friday, so I wouldn’t get the green light to drive again until Monday, 72 long hours later.
What would I do all weekend without being able to get behind the wheel?
The concept of not driving anything was completely new. Sure, I’ve gone three days without driving but that was because I had the flu or during one of those rare situations where need, or want, to drive a vehicle didn’t exist. But never because a person or organization dictated I couldn’t drive.
After my wife Lisa drove me home from the hospital I realized there were lots of things I didn’t need to think about. There would be no tearing the house apart looking for car keys.
I didn’t need to think about what was in the driveway, what cars and trucks had to be shuffled around, fuel gauges, windshield washer fluid levels, or hauling that spring cleaning load of trash to the landfill.
There was no need for a pocket full of loonies and toonies to feed parking meters either.
Since I was supposedly convalescing, my driver, Lisa, was always available to take me wherever I needed to get to. Bratty, but after being the family’s go-to driver for decades, it was cool to simply state my destination and let her deal with everything vehicular.
Ahh the freedom to indulge in my smartphone and be a complete social media geek while in transit. Billboards, homes and businesses I’ve never noticed were everywhere. At traffic lights, I checked out the folks in other vehicles rather than dutifully staring at the intersection and waiting for the lights to change.
There was no averting my eyes or feeling sorry for the boulevard entrepreneurs from the passenger seat. Sure, I feel for them and their dogs, and I appreciate that some want God to bless us but I will not, and have not, encouraged them with a handout.
I was so engrossed with being a passenger that sometimes, after an outing, I had to ask Lisa what car we had driven in.
By Sunday I was starting to tire of being grounded while realizing how much my life revolves around being behind a steering wheel.
I’ve had the privilege of possessing a valid driver’s licence for 52 years, including ones issued in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. There is a slew of expired International Drivers Permits in a filing cabinet beside my desk.
Of course, there are people who live their whole lives without a driver’s licence. I recently learned of a retired friend who had never had one. I wondered how much money he’d saved over the years, but he would never know. Without having ever owned a vehicle, it would be difficult to realize how expensive it is to purchase, fuel, insure, park and maintain one.
By Monday morning I was ready to get the go-ahead from the eye doctor and patiently awaited my noon appointment. I could see clearly out of my operated-on eye and had to drive to Truro that afternoon and to Moncton the next morning.
Lisa drove me to the appointment, which was over in a few minutes. More bright lights probing my eye and a period of silence that seemed like forever.
“Healing very well,” Dr. Belliveau reported. “You can drive now.”
I strutted to the parking lot and asked Lisa for the car keys.
“And what did we come here in?” I asked, thinking it was a quartz blue pearl Subaru Crosstrek. Or was it the hichroma red KIA Stinger press unit assigned to Lisa for the week?